Here’s How To Wash Running Shoes Without Aging Them

If you have just bought a new pair of running shoes, and you’re thinking about the best care to keep them (A) looking good and (B) functioning well, then you have come to the right place.

Your running shoes are the only piece of equipment that you need to go running. Cheap shorts and t-shirts suffice, but cheap running shoes?? “I wouldn’t dream of it.”

All runners have shoes that are very personal to them, and each pair you buy is not cheap. So if you want them to last and try and keep that ‘new shoe smell’, then listen up.

In this article on ‘how to wash running shoes’, we will cover;

  • Can you machine wash your shoes?
  • Is it better to hand clean?
  • Tips for drying your shoes out.
  • How to stop your shoes from smelling!

Ready to find out how to wash running shoes?

Let’s go!

How To Wash Running Shoes Without Aging Them.

Can I Wash Running Shoes In The Washing Machine?

Plain and short of it: yes, you can.

But, machine washing your shoes is not very good for them.

Your shoes are made of many different materials, including rubber, glue and various fabrics. Your washing machine is just not designed to wash all these multiple components simultaneously.

Washing machines are very good at washing one type of material at a time, such as the cotton setting on your washing machine.

I’m not saying that you can’t do it, but your running shoes may end up cracking or becoming misshapen, so it is better for your nice expensive shoes to be safe and avoid it.

Hand cleaning your shoes- the right way

It is much better to hand-clean your shoes. It is far more delicate than throwing them in the washing machine, and you can get into every nook and cranny whilst cleaning them.

How To Wash Running Shoes Without Aging Them.

Hand cleaning doesn’t mean you have to use water every time you clean your shoes either. Sometimes all that is needed is a cloth and a light brush and they will be good as new.

To keep your shoes in top condition, it is best to clean them every time you use them. This may sound a bit overkill, as most people will clean their shoes once a week or when their shoes get a bit muddy.

But if you want to get the most out of that pair of running shoes, the proper care is needed.

Staying on top of your cleaning makes your life easier, a bit like cleaning your house or your car. The longer you leave it, the more unpleasant it becomes.

How to wash running shoes

Here is your step by step guide for cleaning your beloved running shoes.

How to wash running shoes: For dry runs

If you have just been for a jog around the block and there has been no mud or puddles, then there is no need for getting out the washbasin and rubber gloves.

After a dry run, your shoes will collect a small amount of dust on them and maybe pick up something from the pavement on the sole.

This might seem like nothing at all, but if you continue to leave it run after run, the dust will build up and affect the longevity of your shoe.

How To Wash Running Shoes Without Aging Them.

All you have to do is:

1. Remove the insole from the shoe.

2. Give the insole and the shoe a brush down to remove the dust.

3. If there are any dirty patches or dirt on the sole, a damp cloth will take care of that

4. Then store them away for your next run out of direct sunlight and in a well-ventilated area.

5. Remember, if you have used a damp cloth, make sure you dry them out before putting the insoles back in the shoe.


Sunlight is very damaging to fabrics. Over time this makes them brittle and weak, which is the last thing you want for your shoes.

The same applies to ventilation. You don’t want them in a stuffy cupboard where they can stay a bit damp from foot sweat, and the next time you wear them, they stink.

Not to mention all of the bacteria that will build up in your shoe, causing damage to the material, and what’s worse is the smell that they will start to produce.

How To Wash Running Shoes Without Aging Them. 3

How To Wash Running Shoes: Mud and Rain

If you have been for a run in the rain or on the mud of the trails, then it is time to get your basin of water at the ready.

For muddy runs, it is best to wash your shoes straight after your run. The mud on your shoes, as it dries out, will make the fabric in your shoes stiff. Instead of moving naturally, your running shoes will tend to crease, which leads to damage to your shoes and cracking of the material.

Here is a simple step by step guide on how to do it:

Step 1

Unlace your running shoes. Wash the laces in warm water with a bit of detergent. Laces can be alright if you put them in the washing machine, but sometimes it will cause the aglets (the little covers on the tips of your shoelace) to get damaged and fall off over time.

Step 2

Remove your insoles and rinse them under running water, and use a soft brush for any hard to remove ‘gunk’.

How To Wash Running Shoes Without Aging Them. 4

Step 3

Place your running shoes under running water (using a washbasin can help soak your shoes as you go) and remove all the dirt and mud from your shoes. Again, use a soft brush or sponge for the harder sections.

Make sure you get all the hard to reach places, like the tongue and around the eyelets for your laces.

Step 4

Once all the parts of your shoes are clean, time to dry them out.

Place your shoes in a well-ventilated area away from direct sunlight and hot radiators. Your running shoes dry more naturally at room temperature, and the heat from a radiator can affect the quality of the glue in your shoes. It can cause your shoes to become misshapen.

For a quick video and step by step process, check out this video by Salomon.

Tips for drying your shoes

Making sure your shoes are completely dried out before your next run will help them stay fresher for longer, and no one wants wet socks on their next run.

The tried and tested way of helping dry out your running shoes is by putting newspaper into your shoes. Sometimes your running shoes need a helping hand to dry thoroughly, and newspaper is excellent for that.

Stuffing your shoes with newspaper will make your shoes dry faster and will help keep your shoe’s natural shape as they dry (think how your shoes arrived when you bought them, full of paper!)

You can also purchase items on the internet to help your shoes dry by either absorbing the water in your shoes or warming them up to help them dry more quickly.

Just search for ‘Shoe Dryer’ on the internet, and a whole bunch of products will be on offer to you.

  • Related: How To Dry Your Running Shoes Without Damaging Them
  • 4 Best products to use on your running shoes

    How To Wash Running Shoes Without Aging Them. 2 1

    1. Plain warm water can cover almost all of your shoe needs, from washing to keeping them fresh. It also has the bonus of being very cheap!

    2. If your shoes get a bit smelly, you can buy de-odorisers for your shoes. These are easy sprays that you can spray into your shoe post-run to kill odours and harmful bacteria in your shoes.

    You can pick up these sprays for around 6 dollars, so a low expense for a potentially embarrassing situation.

    3. You can also use a light, fabric-safe soap or buy specialised shoe cleaning soaps and detergents. These are pretty affordable (around $10), so there is a world of choice for you depending on your budget.

    4. You can mix one part baking soda and one part vinegar to tidy up your dirty looking mesh on your running shoes for the DIY at-home fixes.

    Mix them together, and scrub the dirty, stained parts of your shoe with the concoction and leave them for around 15 minutes to sit. Give the spots a quick 2 minute scrub with a soft brush. Wash your running shoes thoroughly afterwards with fresh water and leave to dry.

    Why do shoes start to smell?

    Your feet contain around a quarter of a million sweat glands (that’s 125,000 each), and during a typical day, your feet could sweat about half a pint a day.

    How To Wash Running Shoes Without Aging Them. 3 1

    Your feet contain a higher concentration of sweat glands than anywhere else in your entire body, so all that sweat gets trapped in your socks and shoes.

    That is a lot of sweat, so put these how to wash running shoes tips to good use!Otherwise, after a few runs…


    There you have it. You should now be an expert on how to wash running shoes, and your shoes should be looking and feeling great until the day you get a new pair.

    To find out when a new pair is needed, check out our article on just that: Here’s When You Should Replace Your Running Shoes – The 4 Signs

    And if your running shoes are a little bit worse for wear, let us help you pick out another pair, with our article on: How To Choose Running Shoes

    Photo of author
    Tom McMeekin-Donnelly is a runner, outdoor enthusiast and cyclist. Tom competes in ultra-marathons in the UK and Ireland. Tom runs anything from a marathon to 100 miles. He can often be found in the mountains around his home in Ireland.

    Leave a Comment

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.